Elymus canadensis

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: Canada wild rye 
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Native Range: North America
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Greenish
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Good Cut, Good Dried
Leaf: Colorful
Attracts: Birds
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil, Black Walnut, Air Pollution


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Adapts to a wide range of soils. Easily grown from seed and self-seeds in optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Elymus canadensis, commonly called Canada wild rye, is a cool season, clump-forming, Missouri native ornamental bunch grass noted for its arching, wheat/rye-like spikes which bloom in summer and remain attractive well into winter. In Missouri, it typically occurs in open woods, prairies, fields, stream banks and waste areas throughout most of the State. Clumps typically grow 3-5' tall and feature flat, pointed, bluish-green to green leaves (to 3/4" wide) which clasp the stems at the bases. Greenish flowers appear in terminal, arching, bristly spikes (to 6" long) which, when mature, gracefully nod and sway in the wind on stiff stems rising well above the foliage. Foliage and spikes turn tan in fall, but continue to provide visual interest throughout much of the winter. Sometimes commonly called nodding wild rye.

Genus name comes from the Greek word elymos used for a type of grain.

Specific epithet means of Canada.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Best naturalized in prairie, wild or native plant areas. Foliage and flower/seed spikes lend interest to borders, but self-seeding tendencies in borders is a concern. Good ground cover for dry, sunny slopes.